During a very hot week 3 of us were crammed into the very small bathroom as it was refurbished. My plumbers valiantly ripped out and refitted, and I hovered a lot and worked in the evenings on redecorating it.
Here are the finished pictures.. much fresher, no more leaks and hopefully it will stand up to a few years of use well..
New W.C., wall tiles, boxed in plumbing, flooring, lights, taps, mirrored cabinet and sink cabinet:
The scratched and stained bath and shower curtain were replaced with a new steel bath and clear pivoting glass screen:
The walls got fresh bathroom paint and new flooring was laid:
My daughter can change accent colours with towels and accessories. This lovely vintage window pane came from The Beehive in Devizes:
The sink, cupboard and taps came from Victorian Plumbing and add useful storage with mixer taps with ceramic discs on lever handles. These are chrome with ebony levers. The simple large rectangular tiles have dark grey grout that won’t discolour with age, and are a welcome change from the bevelled metro tiles which are currently in most bathrooms.
This wire storage unit fits neatly in a corner and adds some more storage in the room and a little bit of an industrial vibe.
I am really pleased with how it came out, especially given the tiny size of the room. There was no way if reconfiguring the layout, which did save money as I did not have to move services, but I had to measure everything over and over to make sure it would fit as well as create much needed storage.
This was what I would call a low budget bathroom, as I sourced fixtures and fittings from suppliers direct, which saved a large amount of money than if I had bought from high street stores. Plus I did all of the decorating and flooring. But I think it looks far more expensive than it actually cost, so I am very pleased as a result… 🙌
My daughter lives in a flat in London, and recently informed me that the bath tap had died a sorry death. So it’s my job to fix it as the landlady. The current fixture and fittings are a bit worse for wear, with inherited items like a cracked sink, warped bath panel, a wobbly lit mirror and a hair dye splattered bath. To fix the bath tap meant pulling out the bath panel as well as a lot of joinery, so it made more sense to just rip out the whole lot and start again with a fresh new set of fittings. When she moved into the flat we gave the room a lick of paint as seen below, but it really needs a whole new lotta loving…
We did think about replacing the bath with a large shower, but I think this can be off-putting for resale. So we have kept the layout, and will just have much nicer fixtures and fittings to revamp. I have found a builder who comes highly rated, and am planning to work to the following style; clean lines, quite retro, much needed storage, a grey/white/black palette and better lighting. The current sink has separate taps with scorching hot water, so a mixer tap will be used to stop scalding.
Updates will come as it progresses… Fingers crossed it all goes well…🤞
This past week has been the industry hotbed that is Clerkenwell Design Week. I spent a day perusing the offerings, and some of these products caught my eye:
The lighting show was held in Fabric nightclub, which meant that they could be displayed brilliantly. There were a lot of ‘repeat’ concrete shades around, but a few designs stood out:
This beautiful light by Lomas Furniture has a shade of pierced ceramic and looks like the moon…
More lighting which caught my eye came from Pad Home. This was totally organic in shape, made from cardboard and reminded me of large wasps nests (in a beautiful way)…
I found some gorgeous surface textures at Solus, some were slate with what looked like lasered patterns on them:
They also had gorgeous 3D hexagonal tiles, and can supply simple ones in a huge range of colours.
The highlight of my visit was finding this sink, however the price tag is eye watering .. it is the Brockway by KOHLER.
It comes as 1/2 or 3 tap sizes, and reminds me of a cattle trough. Prices in the UK where I can find it are £2K plus, so maybe not for now… I am devastated! Maybe I can convert a real cattle trough instead?
I also saw this beautiful building in Clerkenwell, it looks like Fred Flintstone built it with rough hewn stone frontage in areas. Absolutely smitten!
I recently returned from a design trip to Copenhagen, where the Interior Design department visited many museums, galleries and buildings to develop our practice. What I noticed on the trip was how I have started to question design in relation to my visual cultural studies since starting the academic year.
In relation to areas in which my practice is specifically connected, I found that there is a real hierarchy of design ‘owners’, in that a small number of people have classed items as being of importance, and to that end the rest must follow suit in agreeing and accepting those definitions. In terms of design history that makes absolute sense, eg: The Bauhaus changed ornamentation into form follows function and delineated all items, and given the age in which it happened it connects to social and economic change. I do love modern architecture, especially Brutalism and post modernist hard lines, as it visually inspires me, but every item has a subjective reaction.
Continue reading “Design Trip – Denmark”
So being a busy-bee student has definitely been a real adventure this academic year… but what a blast and I love every minute of it.
Next week I get my final crit from Tutors for my latest project. I have been charged to design a Pavilion (full on Architecture style, from fixings to weights to construction), a bar to go in it, and do it all within a Grade I* listed site so absolutely no touching of the fabric of the building etc. I am finding that I have a bit of Brutalist slant to my work, which is very surprising given the chaotic clutter which I live in (and love)…
I realised I have not posted any work on here since I started back at Uni, so here’s a few bits and bobs I have done this year to prove why I have had no social life, sleep or spare time to post much… 🙂
Semester 1: Theatre Design & Product Design
Here I started out learning about Orthographics and site surveys. Basically if you do this type of drawing by hand, JUST as you reach the end of a drawing your hand slips and you have to either scalpel off the ink, or more usually START AGAIN…Gah! My tutor also is an architect, and knows if I am on a 0.01 or 0.1 pen so you can’t make any mistakes as he’ll know.
I started to learn how to make scale models. This is something I love doing, and think I am like Gulliver but maybe with more fumbly fingers and a tendency to superglue myself to small things…
My next challenge was to design a theatre installation inside a beautiful Medieval Hall showing an excerpt of a scene from Macbeth. This is where the brutalist streak started coming through I think… why try and complete with 600 year old carvings, go the opposite way….! I also made films as part of the design as that is something I used to do in the past for a living, and this design had no budget attached so I went all out for it…
The next project was to design a piece of modular furniture to be used in a travelling exhibition planned for the first ‘Martian House’. This will be a pod designed a bit like the Antarctic science stations for prolonged living on the red plant in 2030. I was asked to focus on wellbeing and health, so came up with a multipurpose item that becomes amongst other things gym parts with added games to spice up what will be probably be a very dull life on Mars…
Semester 2/3: Staircase / Pavilion & Bar Design
I had to present a project on the design of a staircase by a notable architect, (right down to delivering a correctly scaled model). I was given one by the architect Santiago Calatrava, one with NO KNOWN MEASUREMENTS ANYWHERE, which resulted in me travelling to Basel in Switzerland tape measure in hand. But I measured the thing and managed to build the model to scale.
Below is my last project this year, and I will know if I have been slayed by the end of June (gulp)…. I have worked myself to the bone in this one, and cannot even begin to count the hours/days/weeks/months it has taken…
What have I learnt?
Less is More and document everything! I have to justify and be accountable for every minute detail, right down to fixings and screws. I have also had to learn a huge amount of new digital skills as presentation boards are so vital; Photoshop, Rhino, Sketchup, Illustrator, Lightworks, CAD and so on. My iCloud storage is huge already as a result and I have over 11,000 photos on my phone….
I have also learnt brilliant practical skills; steam bending, digital fabric printing, woodwork, welding, plasma metal cutting, textiles, ceramics, 3D printing, laser cutting, fabric manipulation, resin and jesmonite techniques, and more. I have learnt the (new) ways of digital studio shooting in photography, (I am so vintage that I did my first degree in photography on film, and digital did not even exist!). The fabrication facilities are amazing at my University and the technical staff are brilliant, I am making them a huge cake next week to thank them for teaching me so much already.
On top of all of the practical I also had to deliver a critical blog and essays. Now I know why Uni students have/need such long summer holidays, I am frazzled but still raring to go for September this year although I think the pressure will be on even more….
Adios for now
This is a piece I had to write for mu Uni blog… I think it’s interesting to really look at how you are inspired by previous designers…
Imagine you are going to curate an exhibition on the history of your discipline. Compile a list of 10 practitioners (or specific pieces of work) that you would include and write brief notes on why:
Interior Design has some key practitioners over time, and here’s my top 10 of who I would include:
Furniture designer (1718 – 1779)
Not just a cabinet maker, but also an interior designer, and the creator of one of the first ‘catalogues’ of furniture for buyers from all markets and walks of life. This catalogue defined ‘good taste’, meaning the buyer feel that they were able to participate in upwardly mobile and socially acceptable ‘tasteful’ behaviour if they had the money to buy the furniture. A wealthy working class businessman could buy the same piece of furniture that an aristocrat owned, creating feelings of upward mobility. This meritocratic business acumen by Chippendale made him incredibly successful, and is an early example of inspired mass marketing.
CHAIR NO. 14 – THE VIENNA CAFE CHAIR 1859
Michael Thonet (1796-1871)
This chair can be seen as the first ever flat pack piece of furniture design, and is still in production today. Thonet pioneered new techniques of laminating wood to create mass produced furniture for the first time ever, and created designs that could be shipped in pieces and assembled onsite. Like Chippendale he created catalogues for customers, so that pieces could be ordered from anywhere in the world. These could then be shipped cheaply in large quantities as they took up less space when in flat packs, and he even owned his own transportation services. Chair No 14 is one of those pieces of design which everyone recognises, creates historical connotations and reflects the importance of industrial mass production.
Fashion & Home Designer (1925-1985)
A Welsh fashion designer and businesswoman. She originally made furnishing materials in the 1950s, expanding the business into clothing design and manufacture in the 1960s. The Laura Ashley style is characterised by Romantic English designs — often with a 19th-century rural feel — and the use of natural fabrics. Although not to everyone’s taste, her designs, like Chippendale’s, transversed social class boundaries due to their relatively low prices and popular styles, and anyone of any class could become the owner of the rural English idyll.
Interior Designer & Curator (1929-1998)
David Nightingale Hicks was an English interior decorator and designer, noted for using bold colours, mixing antique and modern furnishings, and contemporary art for his famous and wealthy clientele. His extremely strong use of colour palettes and patterns is still seen as inspirational to the designers of today, to the point that some of the colours he ‘evolved’ and used are still named after him. I am including Hicks in this list specifically for his use of bold swathes of colour, which become almost abstract in their intensity.
Architect, Designer, Interior Designer (1892-1970)
Rolf Engströmer, was a Swedish architect, interior designer and furniture designer, and a representative of Swedish grace, the Swedish interpretation of the Art Deco style. His entrance hall at Eltham Palace is a masterclass in Art Deco linear design, with every detail and piece of furniture made for the room in 1933. His work embraced the new modernist approach to design. His work is important to me in that it signifies a historical change in direction in Interior Design both with an aesthetic and architectural focus, and you can relate it to development of artists in other fields at the time.
SIR EDWIN LANDSEER LUTYENS
Architect & Interior Designer (1869-1944)
Lutyens was an English architect known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era. He designed many English country houses, war memorials and public buildings. He would also design furniture to fill his house designs to complete his vision, and promoted the arts and crafts movement with the most natural and raw state of materials exposed and celebrated. He could be seen as the ‘mash-up’ architect in that he would mix architectural styles as he felt fit, and so created a postmodernist, non-judgmental approach to architecture at the time. For this reason, he is in my list.
Decorative Artist & Designer (b1949)
Annie Sloan is a British artist, colour expert and author. After studying Fine Art at university in the 1970s, Annie Sloan went on to write several books on traditional paints and decorative painting techniques, starting with The Complete Book of Decorative Paint Techniques in 1988. She developed her own line of decorative paint “Chalk Paint” in 1990. From this she developed the ‘shabby chic’ look which has been prevalent for the last 20 years in home decor. Some may curse her for it, but the mass appeal of the style shows how people buy into a look and follow it slavishly. As a result it has been copied worldwide by manufacturers which shows the cultural significance of her work. The actual recipe of her paints is an age old tradition harking back to distemper and lime paint which has become very limited in use, yet she has resurrected it hence inclusion on this list.
Photographer, set designer, interior designer (1904-1980)
Beaton was a multi talented designer across several disciplines, who created theatrical interior spaces. His use of clashing colours and patterns show a return to colour after the austerity of the second world war, and he used to introduce ‘the vulgar’ into the traditional, sort of like the punk rocker of interiors at the time. His clientele tended to be the aristocratic and the famous, who let him run riot in their homes. His theatre, ballet and opera sets are inspirational, and still used today by The Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera House in productions.
THE DANISH -HYGGE (Collectively)
Late 20th century onwards.
Hygge (/ˈhjuːɡə/ HEW-gə or /ˈhuːɡə/ HOO-gə) is a Danish word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. This covers an entire interior movement of white interiors, sheepskins, natural materials and pared back interiors. There is no one designer associated with this style, but given it’s enduring popularity I think it is worth including. Like Shabby Chic, it appeals to the masses in that it is easy to achieve and promotes an appearance of ‘good taste’ and ‘style knowledge’ but is relatively easy to replicate and purchase off the shelf.
THE LOUIS GHOST CHAIR
Phillipe Stark, Designer (b1949)
This chair takes a subversive action, from mimicking a royal chair made for Louis XVI, and subverting it into modern day use. It has sleek lines, can be stacked 6 high and is mass produced, and takes the essence of the original into a postmodernist form. As Starck himself said, the chair “has a mix of materials and styles based on our shared memories. We all own this piece in a way.” This chair to me is rock’n’roll, and so included in the list.
Since my last very long time ago post, I bit the bullet and enrolled back at university to study Interior Design with a slant on architectural spatial design.
Since September it has been a whirlwind of learning, late nights (working, not partying) and me banging my head on the desk as I start to learn 3D design programs such as CAD and SketchUp. However, I am LOVING it, even if I am frazzled and sleep deprived… So far I have designed spatial installation art pieces, a theatre set, a piece of modular furniture, designs for the BRI hospital in Bristol for staff rooms, and am currently working on a Pavilion design with a bar for an English Heritage site. I have learnt to weld and cut metal, 3D and laser print items, woodwork in various forms, digital fabric printing, architectural orthographic drawings, a plethora of design packages for the computer (yes, adobe creative suite I love you), model making and loads more. Oh and I forgot to add concrete, clay and resin modelling as well…. I still have a lot more to learn, but am enjoying the journey as well as still holding down a part time job, running a house and being a mum. Women out there, we are the mothers of all multitasking….!
I have to run a blog as part of the course, more analytical than design based, so I’ll post over onto this site if anything is relevant to it. Plus of course anymore DIY tutorials, I’ll posy a prepping for laser cutting one as it’s a genius machine and can cut and engrave anything from fabric to leather to acrylic. I have my summer break soon so I can add things more frequently.
At certain points in life a crossroad is reached. Mine came at the end of last month, very unexpectedly.
I have spent the last 18 years working around my children, their schools and schedules. So I was always working part-time and with lots of different roles meaning that I was around after school and in holidays. My husband works away all week, so I have been the main responsible parent for what seems forever. As a parent, you don’t stop using skills and learning more – bringing up my children I have been a driver, tutor, cook, cleaner, taxi service, accountant, decorator, gardener, driving instructor and many more thin, It might be the empty nest syndrome starting, but about 2/3 years ago I though I should really try and find one direction to head in, focus on one role only and get ready for the day that my chicks will have both flown. I had a very high powered job pre-children, and it was my choice to give it up to be with them as they grew up. I never thought it would be hard to return to work as a result.
As you may be aware from the blog, I have had about 3 different roles over the past few years; teaching art, doing up houses and creating social media for clients amongst other things. But not one of these roles was something that could be consistent, full time, financially sound, and most importantly something that I would really enjoy doing every day.
APPLYING FOR JOBS
So I started sending out my tentacles, and applying for a wide range of roles that suit my skill set, (God, I hate that bloody awful word). I do live in the middle of nowhere in terms of local work opportunities, so I had to expand the radius to 50 miles. But I am willing to travel for the right role, so applied away.
What I have found, and it is a definite, is that after a certain ‘age’ work is much harder to find. I know that companies are not supposed to age discriminate, and it would be really hard to try and prove that they have, but I do suspect that it happens a lot. I spent a lot of time crafting my CV for each specific role, making sure that whatever attributes were needed were clearly identifiable. What I really wanted to write in bold letters at the top was ‘Won’t leave for breeding purposes – I have 20 years before I will even think about retiring, and I have a wealth of experience’. Your age can be deduced from the roles you have done as they want years and dates, and even you don’t legally have to give your D.O.B., they all ask for it and it would be churlish not to put it in.
So… I have applied for jobs that I could do in my sleep, with masses of experience, (if not over-experience!), and 90% of the time did not even get a response. What is this culture of not responding to a job application, regardless of the amount received by a recruiting company? The amount of time and effort people put into a job application could at least be rewarded with a response email. Sometimes I would worry that my application had not been received if it was a job I knew I was well qualified for, so I would send a polite email asking for acknowledgement , and I was lucky if I got a response to that at times.
Becoming really worried about a lack of interest, I asked recruiters to check my CV – was I doing something wrong? Did it need changes? Is my interviewing style bad? No, they’d be mad not to interview you I was told. But again, and again, and again I got no responses most of the time.
For those that did decide to interview me there were some hilarious moments – the time when I was sat down in front of a 20 something year old possible boss who looked at me with undisguised ‘OMG, you’re as old as my MUM!’ eyes. On another occasion I met with company owner and his underling, the latter who would have been my line manager and who had the final say over the hiring for the role. The owner and I got on like a house on fire, and over the course of the interview I could see in the underling’s eyes the dawning realisation that if I was taken on I would be so much more experienced than her and it would show. So that was a no then.
So back to my crossroads – Last week I was interviewed for a job that was not particularly lucrative, but I could do it easily and well and it was only 10 miles from home, plus I offered up my marketing skills for free as temptation for some added value for the organisation. I heard back a couple of days later that I had not been successful… “high standard of candidates.”, “hard decision”.. blah blah….
Something switched in my brain at that point. Not impatience or rage, but instead I just thought I simply cannot tell my friends and family yet again that I have failed to get a decent job, and then watch them looking surprised and upset. It set me thinking. What do I really want to do, what do I love, I am only on this earth once and should make the most of it? For me, it is all about being creative; whether it’s in film or interiors. The former means a move back to London, crazy hours and the pay if half of what it used to be for double the work. The latter, which is my main passion, is impossible for me to really get into properly without formal training.
So in the papers that day, news came of the A level results around the country. Clearing was open to those who needed it and who had not made their grades. So I emailed the head of a department at a Uni who I knew had a great Interior Design course, and got a call back within an hour. The call sort of went along these lines…
Got any spaces?
Can I come?
Tell me about yourself & your interior work so far..
Which I did, then I got a yes.
A quick phone call to the Admissions team, where it turns out I have UCAS points pouring out of my ears, and I had a place to study for 3 years in a very architecturally based Interior Design BA Hons course. One more phone call to Student Finance to arrange a mega loan, and I started yesterday. More on that later…
I will probably never pay back the loan in full, but you know what, I really don’t care. I would rather be a financially challenged student and learn for 3 years to do something well, than apply for one more underpaid, undervalued position where actually my chances are 1% of getting it anyhow as I am ‘too old’. Who know what will happen when I leave Uni, no doubt I’ll be in the same position and even older. I am hoping that a good portfolio might open some doors, but maybe not if I am interviewed by a youngster who cannot see how valuable experience is. The HR departments
So this article is dedicated to all the ladies out there who took a career break to have kids, and then find that now they are undervalued, under appreciated and ‘unemployable’. It’s really tough out there in the job market which can be very hard on your confidence. But if I was an employer I would hire you like a shot. You ladies can multi-task like nobody’s business, have years of really valuable experience under your belt in all areas, and you are not an aged hindrance but an asset. You are just GREAT.
Last week I travelled to Lourdes in France with a band of local pilgrims. I went along as a) it was the sort of thing I would never do and I want to push my boundaries, and b) I was generally just curious to see it.
A bit about Lourdes…
Lourdes is a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It is part of the Hautes-Pyrénées department in the Occitanie region in south-western France. Prior to the mid-19th century, the town was best known for the Château fort de Lourdes, a fortified castle that rises up from a rocky escarpment at its center.
In 1858 Lourdes rose to prominence in France and abroad due to the Marian apparitions claimed to have been seen by the peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous, who was later canonized. Shortly thereafter the city with the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes became one of the world’s most important sites of pilgrimage and religious tourism. Today Lourdes hosts around six million visitors every year from all corners of the world. This constant stream of pilgrims and tourists transformed quiet Lourdes into the second most important center of tourism in France, second only to Paris, and the third most important site of international Catholic pilgrimage after Rome and the Holy Land.
I took along my trusty Canon E0S as I knew there would be interesting photo opportunities, and although I wanted to respect the privacy of people there I knew I could get some good documentary type shots.
I am a born and bred ‘intermittent’ catholic, (although my local priest calls me a ‘have a go catholic’ – i.e. I just pick the bits of doctrine which I like and ignore others), so I went with some scepticism if I am totally honest. But I can convey that is a great place to visit, and not a bastion of the Catholic Church itself in terms of rules and regulations, but one of Faith, pure and simple. The atmosphere was amazing, and what I liked most was that ill and disable people were treated with the utmost respect and courtesy. They were not the invisible as in so many places, but instead the most focused upon and respected.
The town is set at the foot of the Pyrenees, and I went up the funicular on the Pic du Jer to get a birdseye view. This is a very high hill overlooking the town, and the funicular was so steep I had to shut my eyes going up, but once up on the top you can see snowcaps in the distance even in the summer. It is simply beautiful.
Around the Basilica and Grotto in the town were a multitude of people; Religious, Medical Staff, Pilgrims and Volunteers. I loved just watching them all go about their business, whether it was praying, talking or just moving through the town.
The town has stations of the cross set on two levels, low and high. I climbed up to the high ones which are life size and cast in bronze, to get a set of photos for a pilgrim I was with who could not make the steep walk.
The statues of Saints and Angels around the Basilica are amazing.
It really is an inspirational place and I recommend a visit for anyone, religious or not, to see such kindness to the sick and disabled. I bathed in the waters at the Grotto, and it was an incredibly experience and very humbling.
There are bits of Lourdes that have lots of shops selling religious souvenirs, some tasteful and some very garish, but it’s all part of the experience just to see how many different statues and types of water bottles you can count…!
So if you are ever in that part of the world, I really recommend a visit. It puts life into perspective a bit more and was a very calming experience.